Wednesday, 9 March 2016


Last year Andrew Stott bought his fabulous Gramophone Grooves to the Wedding Fair and we're thrilled he's joining us again.

Gramophone Grooves is the epitome of the vintage era - A Tune and a Tipple - a vintage bar and gramophone from a big perambulator!

You can have a short, a nip, a tickle, a wee dram, your own tipple of choice, whilst choosing from a selection of original jazz, blues and dance 78s from the 20’s to the 50’s.

In the last year they've had lots of adventures at weddings and events but I thought it would be nice to be reminded of Andrew's diary piece from last year about the making of Gramophone Grooves!

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"Hopeful that I can turn an old pram into a quirky, compact, off-beat way to serve drinks whilst enjoying some vintage tunes, this is the story of that transformation from ad hoc party wagon to chic speak easy.  Using the finest of leftover materials and a vague plan ... will I succeed?

This first image is the party wagon in full swing in its first incarnation.  From these humble beginnings I realised it was a good idea but needed polishing with a more defined concept and look.

The second image is the start of that process. Here is the basic liner in the pram. I used cardboard templates to create the pieces and lo and behold the pram wasn’t of course, straight or equilateral in its construction! So every part had to be hand fettled to make it fit, but after a lot of whittling and re-cutting it finally came together.   OK, it may not look like much but it's a good start.

From these modest foundations a party pram will be built!

I was thinking about how to make a feature out of my 78's.  So here is the mock-up for a potential slot for them – a kind of slanted ‘78 library shelf. I want my punters to be able to easily select and then play a ’78 and I'm hoping this will help to make an interactive experience.

As a DJ with over 20 years’ party experience, I have had to accept the iPhone shuffle, pause, select and change mid tune current mindset; seamless 8 hour sets of furious dance funkiness has been usurped by immediate instant gratification machines.  Forget listener experience. … “I want it now” wins out.

I could be miffed, but hey that's progress grandpa - get with it you ‘78’s dinosaur!   As the HMV 101 is the original picnic gramophone, designed with a handy slot in the lid for your rapid choice and deployment of those wickedly decadent jazz tunes, I can’t be glum as, If you will, it is the originator of iPod shuffle haphazardness.  The originator of customer choice and sub instant gratification - no band needed it's all on a disc.  It's hard to experience that quintessential revolution now but it changed music history forever, Although they may not know it, pop music and teenagers owe it all to the 20’s newly-empowered flapper heiresses.

Stick a needle in, crank it up and let it go daddy-o.  Actually it's surprisingly loud, as  'put a sock in it’ aptly describes.  The machines I use may not be the epitome of gramophone chic - no big brass bell and absence of Gothic woodwork, but the HMV 101 represents the zenith of gramophone design - compact, audibly efficient and modern style all in one. At its time a very expensive bit of upper class flapper picnic kit.  For me they are robust for professional use and sufficiently of the look to engage my slightly bemused public.

There is a decade between my two machines and the only change is an automatic stop arm in the 30’s version. Ten year upgrade period anyone?! So what's next? NOT a ten year upgrade. 

So – pram ... check.  Gramophone ... check.  78's. … check.

Er ... bar… I need a bar... on a pram?

So the ‘Tune’ bit of ‘Tipple and Tune’ is sorted.  But for the ‘Tipple’ bit to work I need a bar.  There has to be a bar - it’s in our DNA,  I know it’s a pram but to enjoy a tipple you need a bar to rest on.  It's an adjunct to a conversation, the foundation to witty and repartee. It may be small, but it’s huge in my plan to turn a big pram into a small party.

So today was about turning a very dodgy old door into my new very important bar surface.  Using reclaimed wood is cost-effective but creates its own problems. But here's the thing - it creates new unforeseen parameters you have to work around. Often when you get into a project, the possibilities seem endless - this is like a white blank canvas, it's pureness is often daunting.  Dirty it up, beat the white and you can find yourself already immersed knee deep in your effort.  I find its good to be curtailed by the properties of a found object. It forces you into thinking laterally, like dirtying up a white canvas.

But it’s freezing in the garage this morning, with the first sprinkling of snow turning to ice outside, and making my creative thinking work is a painful process.  At least a mooch about in my local ironmongers provides part of the solution.  Window catches to hold on the bar - quick, strong and presentable. Who knew?

Now what to do with the bar top?  As it's a paneled door there is a rebate. - not too clever to balance your tipple on. Also the door panel is damaged so I have to cover it with something.  I have some scrap 6mm ply, which I have been saving for some unknown purpose for ages. It's just a tad too thick and not quite wide enough... um …

I'm sure I can pull off a bit of marquetry if I make an inner band using the plywood on edge so the layers of ply make a stunning/amateurish detail. Then I can make an inner panel to fit. Just have to get some circulation going in my hands so I can attempt to measure and cut accurately!  Well at least I'll try the second time.

There's a surprise! The door is not straight ... or parallel, so yes all the pieces have to be fitted individually.  Obviously this is a lesson I still have to learn, and re-cutting the pieces a third time makes the point - don't make assumptions without checking first. Still, I can do very simple rough marquetry with very poor quality scrap wood... oh yeah! Tipple I up!  We have a bar! This might just work …

The bar took a lot more planing and sanding than I could ever have imagined -  still, kept me warm!  Managed to get a coat of the ebony exterior stain on, which was bit of a revelation. I did a sample test, which indicated that it could be applied to create tone. Essentially it's like transparent black varnish, so by varying the depth of application all tones from light to dark could be achieved all on top of of raw MDF.

With the final top coat the effect of dark wood is very convincing. It also has created an aged vintage look to the interior of the pram, like haggard laquer,  its faded glory telling a story it ain't earned yet.

Well it's all done bar the shouting and the dressing up. The big pram with little party posibillities is ready!  Come and check it out at the Bristol vintage wedding fair at the zoo March the 13th.

Tel: 07867 977890

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